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Snakes and Varmits


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#16 Matt

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 02:26 PM

Folks:
I know I'm getting in this discussion months late, but my love for dogs demands I straghten some misconceptions out.
First, I've killed five rattlesnakes in the last three weeks on the ranch, and no telling how may over the last thirty years. Point being, I know them varmints pretty well.
The idea they won't cross a rope is baloney.
The idea that going slow will keep you from stepping on one is also baloney. I killed one over 5' that was nearly invisible in very sparce grass. I would have walked over or on it had my dog not alerted me. They blend in more than you would ever believe. They will let you walk right over them, and when you step on them you get bit.
My dog has been de-snaked with a shock collar twice. She doesn't want anything to do with a rattlesnake, and to prove it I left two dead on the lane and the next night watched her walk clear around them. But, she also gets the vaccine because as my vet says, and he's a fellow rancher, the dog will get bit when she runs through grass and over one she doesn't see.
I can not stress how hard they are to see in grass or brush; almost impossible.
I've observed them, and played with them to learn their habits. Yes, they will retreat if possible, but not until you are close enough to get bit unless you are really making noise.
They don't hold back their venom. When you get a dry bite it simply means they have bitten something recently and don't have any venom left.
It is not true that small snakes are as venomous as big snakes. The venom is the same, and a big snake with a full load will hurt you worse than a small snake.
What does it feel like? I've never taken venom but I have been struck by one very large one wearing protective boots. It feels like a strong man punched you hard. I was shocked at how hard a 4' snake hit my leg.
Most dogs survive snake bite if they get bit in the face. Their head will swell up and they definitely need treatment, but they'll live. If they get bit in the chest or upper leg you have to get them to the vet asap. The anti snake venom was about $300 five years ago and is now about $800. It is worthless if you can't get to the vet in a half hour or less.
A neighbors pit bull was bitten, walked up to the house and fell over unconscious. She died on the way to the vet.
If you are in snake country get the shots. I forget what the original shot costs but the annual ones after the first two are about $35.00.
I'm not trying to act like a no-it-all, but I do know rattlesnakes.
Cottonmouths are worse and the vaccine for rattlesnake bite doesn't work on the cottonmouth venom.
The reason most people are uninformed about rattlesnakes is the fact that so much information written about them is wrong.
They are shy, prefer to stay away from people, but aren't going to run away from you unless you warn them. In spite of that, if I didn't have grandkids I wouldn't kill them. They are beautiful creatures as are coral snakes.
I hope I helped,
Matt
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#17 swtgran

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:11 PM

Matt, thank you for sharing your vast experience. It doesn't hurt to be reminded, especially with the new camping season upon us. Terry

#18 Lane

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 06:39 PM

Varmits an' stuff,

Thanks to everyone who contributes to this thread. I'm learning a lot, probably more than I want to know.

I knew there was a reason I preferred the beach over the desert! At the beach all I have to look out for are Snowy Plovers and Park Rangers.

Lane and the Poodle Girls who think snakes are for barking at.
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#19 Lane

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 06:39 PM

Varmits an' stuff,

Thanks to everyone who contributes to this thread. I'm learning a lot, probably more than I want to know.

I knew there was a reason I preferred the beach over the desert! At the beach all I have to look out for are Snowy Plovers and Park Rangers.

Lane and the Poodle Girls who think snakes are for barking at.
Ray Lane Aldrich
Lane's Bait Shop at
web.me.com/lanealdrich/Lanes_Bait_Shop
Retired & Loving it
Back in NoVA after the West Coast
2007 17'SD & Navigator

#20 ArizonaEileen

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 01:06 AM

Thanks, Matt, for a very informative thread. I learned a lot.

I would also like to caution those who camp or hike in an area where coyotes are known to live.
Attacks on small dogs and children seem to be increasing, and some coyotes are rabid.

Search "coyotes attacking dogs" or "coyotes attacking children" on Google.

As Emily Litella used to say, "It's always something."

Eileen

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#21 DesertHawk

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 05:00 PM

I was born and raised in South Texas and have been living in New Mexico for 36 years or so. We used to Jeep alot in the desert and had dogs run loose all over, never had a snake bit one, have ridden a motorcycle all over in the desert, hiked around but had very seldom ran accross a rattlesnake. I seen our dog run over on stretched out across the jeep trail in an arroyo, twice. Snake didn't move. Scared us, we got her in the jeep as fast as we could, the dog, not the snake. rolleyes.gif They are around, but often not seen. One of my fellow teachers had one of her dogs bitten while hiking a few years ago. Matt, who I noticed is from Taft, TX is in prime rattlesnake country, more so than we who live in a desert. Taft is in the Texas Coastal Bend not far from the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi. Ranch country it would seem. My Great-niece has started teaching in the Mission, Tx school district and has just moved into a brand new school which was built in ranch land. They have had so many rattlesnakes on the playground they can not let the kids out to play and have all kinds of rats in the buildings. Rats means more snakes. I only bring this up because I have been reading about the danger of snakes in the desert, which could be, but more so I believe in non-desert country, such as South Texas.

As Matt also pointed out concerning: "I read somewhere that snakes will not cross hemp rope. Circle your trailer with hemp rope, when camping in the desert, perhaps?", would not be true. It is an old cowboy tell (as opposed to an old wife's tell), but if I were sleeping on the ground out in South Texas a 100 years or so ago, I'd have roped off my sleeping area just to make sure. anim_rofl.gif

When out & about in any country, it is best to keep your eyes peeled and be alert for snakes and coyotes alike. Especially, the two legged type. They worry me more than the other kinds.

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#22 Carol Christensen

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 11:30 AM

We used to wander the hills with our dogs off leash. One of our dogs came across a rattlesnake and that snake's rattle was really loud. I'd never heard one before but knew immediately what it was. Fortunately the dog was startled which I suppose is the idea, the rattle being a warning, and didn't attack. Plus he actually came immediately when I called him so all was OK. People have told me the dog's fur will give them some protection because it fools the snake into biting the fluff instead of the skin. Of course, that doesn't work so well on a short-hair breed or lower leg. Better safe than sorry; I second the advice to keep them on leash in snake country.

PS: I just now read Matt's reply and now realize, if the snake strikes it's probably going to bite when it hits something solid not when it hits fur. That's probably a myth also.

Here in northern Nevada we've only seen live rattlers near rocky outcrops or near large trees, possibly to avoid the hottest time of day. Of course, we have seen many dead ones on dirt roads so they must be out in the open too, at least at certain times of the day. Definitely keep your distance. A coiled snake can strike a target a distance of it's body length away.

Edited by Carol Christensen, 27 April 2008 - 11:52 AM.

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#23 DesertHawk

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 02:43 PM

dry.gif One other thing, rattlesnakes do NOT always rattle before they strike. They are more prone to strike just after hibernation. They do not always stay in hibernation all the time during the winter at least her in our part of the Southwest.

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